Tag Archives: design

This “cloud” shredder will make you want to shred paper!

Seriously, how cute is this??

The paper looks like rain! It’s awesome! Thank you, Muji!

For more on it, see: Muji cloud is a fun tool to condense paper into small pile of shreds – Yanko Design

On modular walls, indoor and out

As a result of the pandemic and CafeTO, many restaurants have put up these GRIPBlock reusable walls outside their establishments in the warmer months to draw in customers. It’s a good thing. Here’s one nearby in my neighborhood:

A good idea like that works indoors too. This Blokaloks modular system lets you build walls or even rooms inside, like this:

Smart. You can click on the link to see more designs. Would be perfect for lofts and other open concept spaces that need better definition.

Want to be more organized next week? Start with your desk

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If you are like me, your desk gets cluttered and disorganized at times. We all could use some help. To aid you, here are some nifty desk organizers to create the most efficient desk space for you from the good people at Yanko Design. Some of them are very practical, and some of them are very cool, like this:

All are worth a look.

The best way to organize your desk is to clear it off. The next best way is to get organizers that keep it tidy.

The beauty of the Elysée Shelving System, or not all furniture from the 70s is bad

While many of the furnishings of the 1970s should stay in that decade and never be revived, these shelves are an exception. As Designmilk.com explains, these shelves date

… back to the 70s, when Pierre Paulin was commissioned by President Pompidou to design furniture for the Elysée Palace’s private apartments, (but they were not) …. officially launched to the public until 2009 …

They make me think of the 70s, but they don’t scream it. They would work wonderfully with contemporary furniture today. Also highly expandable. Perfect for book collectors like myself.

For more on them, see: From a Palace to Your Home: The Elysée Shelving System.

The irony of the Nike’s new shoe, the NikeCraft x Tom Sachs General Purpose Shoe

If this shoe was coming out from anyone other than Nike, I would just straight-up praise it. It’s a practical shoe. It will likely wear well over the months and even years. If you are someone who likes to wear the same shoe all the time (e.g. Birkenstocks or Blundstones) then these could be perfect for you.

Coming from Nike, though, which is famous/notorious for making rare and high priced shoes intentionally, the fact that they make these and portray these shoes as typical of them is …well, something.

To step back, Nike does make shoes for different markets. The Pegasus brand and the Air Force 1 lines are for mass markets, just like these are. Just like the Jordan brands and other high end lines are for different markets. It’s all just capitalism: they have a model for whatever you value and whatever your values are. For more on the these shoes, check out Uncrate and Yanko Design.

We need a better IKEA, or an IKEA alternative


That’s what I was thinking when I read these two pieces:

IKEA, for a large part, is DIY furniture. But for many reasons, there is a limited range of furniture pieces to choose from. I wish there were better alternatives to them that offered more thoughtful pieces, like the ones found in those Yanko Design articles.

Anyway, it’s likely not going to happen soon. But I think there is a market for it. We just need the right business leaders to build it.

(Image from the first article.)

Things I wish were real: Braun wireless earbuds

Sadly, only a design concept, but I wish these Braun wireless earbuds were a real thing. I’m a big fan of Braun, and while I like my earbuds from Apple, if time came to switch, I’d love something like this to be for sale.

Let’s make it happen, Braun! (It likely won’t happen in such a competitive space, but I can dream. )

Your desk needs an upgrade. This can help

If you’re like me, your work desk could use an upgrade. Maybe it’s too cluttered. Maybe your tech is looking a bit shabby. Either way, I recommend you go see these top 10 desk accessories to level up your work from home productivity over at Yanko Design. For example, the organizer above is a nice way to get things off your desk.

And this keyboard below looks like it would be an improvement on the one you currently have:

Hey, new stuff isn’t everything, but it could be just the thing to make you a bit more productive and happier when you sit down at your desk to work.

 

On the new Google Glass(es), 2022 edition

In 2013, Google gave the world Google Glass. While their high tech glasses seemed cool at first, eventually it was revealed to be terrible technology, and people sporting it became known as “glassholes”. Not good.

Google did not give up, though, and have unveiled a new version of there glasses. at their recent annual convention on all things Google:

After announcing a whole new catalog of products, including the Pixel 6A, Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, Pixel Buds Pro, Pixel Tablet, and Pixel Watch, Google gave us a taste of an AR Glasses prototype they’ve been working on (labeled Proto 29) that combines natural language processing and transcription to provide subtitles to the real world. Wear the glasses and, in theory, you can understand any language. The glasses pick up audio and visual cues, translating them into text that gets displayed on your lens, right in your line of vision. These virtual subtitles overlay on your vision of the world, providing a contextual, USEFUL augmented reality experience that’s leaps and bounds ahead of what the Google Glass was designed to do in 2013.

I know, they’re still a prototype. But it’s exciting to think about! I could see how they could even show you a potential response, just like they do when you use Gmail and they suggest potential responses. Quite an amazing tool for those who travel to places with different languages.

Among other things, this shows that tech still has ways to be innovative and useful in ways we haven’t even thought of. Good job, Google, for not giving up on this technology. Looking forward to the day when these go from prototypes to the real thing.

Tables and desks for people like myself that cannot get enough shelf space :)

I love all three of these pieces of furniture. First there is this table that also functions as a bookshelf:

Then there is this table /desk that has tons of storage:

A few years ago when I was making furniture, I made something similar. I could definitely see someone good at DIY/carpentry making the above two. As for this one below, I love that desk but it’s not for your typical DIYer! Fabulous though:

They remind me of the old telephone tables people used to have. They used to have a particular function, and they had special storage as part of them.

All three links lead to Yanko Design, where you can find out more about each of them. Worth a look.

More cat furniture! Now with dogs and other weird stuff

Yep, it’s time for another — likely my last — edition of cat furniture links. It’s been a weird fixation of mine. I blame Yanko design, which keeps posting these links: they are like cat nip for me. So here’s some more cat furniture to check out.

It’s not all goofy stuff for spoiled felines. For example this  post has good design aimed for your pets, like this wheelchair for dogs:

The again, there is this dryer/sauna for cats….I dunno:  Still more cat stuff.

There is also this, so you can be like your pet. Sheesh

Finally, there is this dog leash + smart tag design tracks your pet’s emotions to help you communicate better.

Ok, that’s enough of all that. Enjoy!

It’s Friday. Don’t you wish you were out on the road on a cool bike?

I know I feel that way after looking at some of these babies. For example, this could be uncomfortable, but just look at how great this modular ebike looks! 

For something a bit more practical, there’s this  cool café racer bike:

Very nice!

If you want something bigger, there’s this 2022 Harley:

Too big? How about this little number via Justin Bieber no less:

But wait, maybe you agree with this piece on bike road safety that laments how dangerous riding a bike is in the city? In that case, maybe you just want something like this exercise bike:

The weather is getting nicer. Get yourself a bike and get out there.

(Images courtesy of Uncrate and Yanko Design)

Your next piece of luggage could be your next piece of furniture too

If you are in the market for luggage, I recommend you consider this sturdy luggage that morphs into an attractive trolley for dual functionality when not traveling.

It’s great for several reasons besides the obvious:

  • when you aren’t travelling, you don’t have to store/hide it anywhere. Great for places with little or no storage space
  • when you are travelling, it is an additional piece of furniture for your room. Again, you don’t have to store it: just set it up near a desk and use it to hold stationery, snacks, and other temporary items.

Lots of reasons to make this your next piece of luggage.

For the musician/gamer in your life: NES-SY37 Synthesizer

How cool is that? A synthesizer that steals design elements from Nintendo. Brilliant! More on it, here: Love Hulten NES-SY37 Synthesizer | Uncrate.

It’s time yet again for a post on well designed cat furniture!


There are topics on this blog I write about frequently because they are near and dear to my heart. And then there is this topic: crazy cat furniture. I just find it fascinating how designers go to great lengths to design furniture for their cats. For example, most cats would be happy with any old cardboard box, but this designer took that a step further and made this cardboard cat house (see above).

Then there’s this  minimal wooden cat scratcher that doubles up as a cozy chilling spot for your pets! My belief is that the only way the cat will settle in any given spot is either a) it’s warm b) to annoy the dog you have.

Finally there’s this!

Yes, a wall mountable cat bed that gives your cat a place to lounge up high while saving you space. They even put shelves on the wall to make it easier for the cat to get there!

Ok, that’s it for me. For now. 🙂

(P.S. All images and posts from Yanko Design, the good people who keep me stocked with all these ideas to post. )

And now for something beautiful: a tiny black cabin built from felled oak trees


This tiny black cabin you see above is built from felled oak trees acquired from a home’s construction waste. The company responsible, Studio Padron, did a fantastic job of recycling, take all this waste wood and making a glorious living space.

Looks great inside too

For more, go to the Yanko Design link above and check it out.

Penk Chen is making computers cool again

And to me he is doing it with these two machines: the CutiePi tablet above, and the Penkesu Computer below…

I think both of these machines are fabulous. I love the different designs of both of them. The handle for the CutiePi is great: you can carry it and then use it to stand up the computer. As for the Penkesu, I love how it reminds me of the old netbooks I used to love.

Well done, Penk Chen and team. For more on the bottom device, see: The Penkesu is a DIY retro handheld PC with a mechanical keyboard – The Verge.

P.S. Hat tip to Clive Thompson for pointing this out.

 

What do you get if you get your six year old to design you website?

Well, if you are Kevin Basset, you get this: Kevin Basset | kevin.tw

I can’t remember the last time I was so charmed by someone’s site.

Well done, Kyra. Well done, Kevin.

On Philippe Starck, now and then

Philippe Starck has been tied to my life since I was a young man in the 80s, staying at his hotels and buying what i could afford of his. Chances are you have sat in some of his chairs or seen his hotels and didn’t even know it.

He and I parted ways some time ago: my hotel staying days died down and I settled for more modest chairs. I would occasionally wonder what he was up to.

Turns out he is still making great things. Case in point, those wooden armchairs that fit together brilliantly. The chairs are…

…The first collaboration between designer Philippe Starck and Spanish furnishings manufacturer Andreu World … Their Adela Rex walnut and oak plywood armchairs are made from three molded shapes that fit together without hardware. (Take that, IKEA.) Part of World’s 100% pure wood project, the chairs are FSC Certified.

Beautiful. Perhaps one day I’ll have a chance to relax in one.

P.S. I am happy to say that not only is his career continuing, but so is his web site. It used to be a bit of a disaster from a UX perspective, but it seems to have improved. Here’s a link to part of it: Royalton hotel, New York. That hotel, like many he designed in the 80s, no longer sports his designs. But at the time it was a dream to visit and stay in.

Pop over and take a look. Perhaps the next hotel you stay in will be one of his.

P.S.S. More things on this blog about Starck, here.

(Very) smart socks (and gloves) for winter!

How smart are they? These winter-clothes are so advanced, they come with their own temperature-adjusting thermostat!

Pretty smart! Now they may be more than most people want, but for people who *hate* being cold, these could be just the thing they are looking for.

 

The beauty of the TTC’s interiors

On twitter the other day I had a brief discussion about the good and bad aspects of the TTC’s interiors. This got me thinking, and led me to this site and post on it: juliekinnear.com. I really encourage you to click that link to see a good photoessay on all the beauty of the TTC’s stations. Here are two images from that post, but there are many. The TTC doesn’t have anything like the Oculus in Manhattan, but it has many beautiful spots of it’s own. You can see them in person, or do the next best thing and read that piece by Julie Kinnear.

A better dock for your Apple Watch

I love this! Not only can you charge your Apple Watch easily, but you can also use this device to easily see the time and your alarm. Brilliant. More on it, here:
Nightwatch Magnifying Clock Dock.

Nine great design/decor links to kill some time with :)

If you are still working at this date, you are either working desperately to finish or you are killing time until the end. If you are the latter, these are for you:

  1. Here’s some good things for your home: this Aldi launches clever cooling bedding range for hot sleepers and this Smart Kitchen Appliances that will transform you from a home cook to a MasterChef! but also this Jonathan Adler and Ruggable Just Collaborated on a Washable Rug Collection That‚Äôs Dripping with Style.
  2. Speaking of your home, These Are the Items Visitors See First In Your Home.
  3. Not your home, but cool: the  El Cemento Uno House.
  4. Here are two good storage solutions, this  Kartell Componibili Smile 2 Tier Storage and this Vadolibero Domus R3 Bicycle Storage System.
  5. Also good if you don’t have much space:  This folding electric bike shrinks to the size of a CPU fitting under your desk! (See images)
  6. Speaking of little space: Tiny Cabins designed to be the ultimate micro-living travel destinations!
  7. More on min/maxi-malism: How to Embrace Minimalist Decor When You’re Not a Minimalist and Maximalism.
  8. A shout out to the man: Dieter Rams: Less but Better / $40.
  9. Finally, here’s  This Futuristic Litter Box Has an App That Lets You Know When to Empty.

(Images of this cool bike from Yanko)

A modern day root cellar and other zero waste product designs

Nope, that’s not a piece of sculpture: it’s a fridge. Yep! It’s meant to go underground, not unlike a root cellar. It’s part of the various zero waste product designs found here: A sustainable underground fridge + more product designs to help you lead that zero waste lifestyle! – Yanko Design

There’s some really interesting designs there worthy reviewing. Some of them smaller than the fridge above. 🙂

Minimal light designs – some inspirational ideas

I love lamps and lighting. I have been known to have too many lamps in a room just because I can’t decide on one. If you are the opposite and in need of some lighting inspiration, I recommend this: Bring your home to life with these minimal 3D-printed Gantri lighting designs! – Yanko Design. That piece features quite a few different lights, including the one above. Simple and beautiful.

You may not be able to find these specific lamps, but they may lead you to some you might, be they at IKEA or some high end lighting place.

 

On capitalism, environmentalism and architecture, and the need to vacate, retreat and celebrate holidays

Last week there was much discussion about a dorm being sponsored by Charlie Munger for UCSB, which resulted in resignations among other things. Here is an example of the floor plan:

The big point of contention was the lack of windows for the bedrooms. Munger, who has been dictating the design, said it was more important that students have their own room than windows. I agree that having your own room is very important. My son is attending my alma mater and unlike me he has his own room in his first year and I applaud this. But he also has a window. It doesn’t have to be an either / or situation. We need both.

I’ve been thinking about this situation and I think in some ways many people who talk about urban housing have all become like Charlie Munger. In discussions they have, the living space of people living in cities gets smaller and smaller. Sure there are windows, but they are little windows looking out on little else. They are nothing like this:

And why is that? It’s because we assume we cannot afford it. Capitalism says people cannot live this way. Environmentalists often support that, saying dense cities with dense buildings are greener than suburbs or single dwellings.

Most of us, me included,  assume that has to be the way it is. We don’t ask ourselves is that a good way for us to live constantly I think that is key. I love living in cities for the most part, but I think we all need to get away from them and have a good place to get away to.

Vacation and holiday have had their meaning diluted  over time. Many would consider a retreat something we do because of a breakdown in our lives. I think we need to reconsider this. From time to time we need to vacate our current environment. We need to have holidays where we celebrate our spirituality and our connection to a greater purpose. We need to retreat from the day to day and restore ourselves.

I love where I live, but I would love to be able to go to this place from time to time. To vacate my current life and retreat to this place and celebrate a holiday.

Is it affordable? Well, there is a cost each of us bears for living in small spaces right up against each other all the time. The pandemic is just one of many costs that have resulted in this. But we suffer the cost in other ways in terms of mental health and much more. We need to revisit these costs and determine a better way to understand what we can afford. We need to live better. We need our space and our windows.

For more on the cabin shown here, see this: This prefabricated cabin is a holiday retreat that balances a rustic personality with modern details! – Yanko Design

It’s time for another edition of: crazy well designed furniture for cats

Here on the ole blog I like to feature overly well designed furniture for cats! (For example.)  Why? Who knows. I find it amusing, is all. The latest thing (shown above) is a modular cat-tree that can be any shape/style you want, with a customizable design that’s like IKEA for cats. I kid you not.

You know you love your cat if you will actually buy this and spend a good part of your day assembling it.

That said, it is well designed. So if you love your cat and want such a thing, go to that article in Yanko Design and check it out.

 

 

A clock that use literary quotes to tell you the time

I love this Author Clock show above. It…

…uses passages from literature that have mentions of the time in them… so at 9 o’clock, the clock shows a passage from The Great Gatsby that has the phrase “9 o’clock” in it, and at 12, it displays verses from Hamlet when the clock strikes 12. Ultimately, the Author Clock turns something as mechanical as the ticking of hands into something much more whimsical and joyful… especially if you’re a bookworm or a lover of literature.

Brilliant! You might think it’s not possible that there would be a quote for each minute of each day, but apparently it is.  For more on it, see this piece: This absolutely genius clock uses actual quotes from literature to tell the time! from  Yanko Design

What this potentially leaked image of the iPhone 14 tells us about the flaws of iPhone design

I’ve complained before about the design of the iPhone with it’s bulges, not to mention the notch. Apple and it’s fans have continually made excuses for them, but that’s doesn’t excuse these flaws imho. This potentially new design of the iPhone 14 (below) shows that they may be finally dealing with problems by eliminating the notch and smoothing out the back of the phone.

Now who knows? Maybe this leak is fake and that’s not something Apple is going to do at all. Read this piece over at Yanko Design and decide for yourself.

The wonderful infographics of W.E.B. Du Bois

While W.E.B. Du Bois is acclaimed for many achievements, one that I had never heard of until I came across this was how great he was at making infographics: W. E. B. Du Bois’ Hand-Drawn Infographics of African-American Life (1900) – The Public Domain Review.

That piece has several of his works on display, including the one above. Not only are they well designed, but seeing them gives you a valuable American history lesson. For example, this one below uses text and imagery to show how the population of African Americans changed over time in proportion to the rest of the population:

Well worth checking out that article to see more of his work.

 

More wacky furniture for cats!

Here on my blog I love to highlight furniture designed around cats. So when I saw the piece above, I had to share it. I mean ostensibly it is for humans, but the way it is designed, it’s really for cats, although humans can share it. If that’s not the best definition of what it can be like to live with a cat, I don’t know what could be better.

Found here at Adafruit.

Three quick thoughts on the new minimalism vs maximalism debate

It looks like minimalism has had it’s time and now it’s time for maximalism to take over. At least that’s the sense I get, reading this:More Is More: The End of Minimalism | The Walrus

My thoughts are this:

  1. Home decor is fashion, as much as clothing is fashion. The fashion for a time has been minimalism. Minimalism not just in having less items in your homes. It’s has also been about the colour of people’s walls. Or the use of mid-century modern furniture with its clean lines. The fashion of minimalism has always been about paring back in all areas of home decor.
  2. Now that form of minimalism is slowly going out of fashion. Home decor may be fashion, and no it doesn’t change as frequently as fashion in clothing, but yes it still changes. And the direction it is going to change towards is maximalism.
  3. I suspect we will see more and more maximalism in the next few years. Especially so as we eventually exit the pandemic. Things will get more colourful. Bolder lines and styles. Bigger pieces. More of everything. (Just like what you see in the photo above.) That will continue to increase until it too goes out of fashion. It’s all a pendulum.

For more on maximalism, here’s some other pieces I wrote. I also wrote more on minimalism too. 🙂

(Image via vinterior.co …I love it)

Apple and the limits of minimalism as a design quality

I like minimalism as a quality in phones. But when I look at the phone above, I see two bulges. One is the camera, and two is this battery pack. It’s as if companies want to have the best of both worlds: minimal design and maximum capacity. But rather than designing for it, we get….well, what you see above.

I understand the economics of it. I just don’t see why Apple doesn’t spend more time to design a battery pack and a camera that incorporates better into the phone.

For more on the battery pack, go here: Apple’s ‘Camel Hump’ battery pack is back… this time in a wireless MagSafe avatar | Yanko Design

(Image: link to image in the article)

 

Bring back A/V equipment that looks like furniture! :)

Ok, that’s not going to happen. I suspect most audio-visual equipment is going to look more like computers and less like furniture for the foreseeable future. Most, but not all. Take the bluetooth speaker above. Yep, that’s a bluetooth speaker! The tech is modern, but the enclosure is a throwback to midcentury modern. I love it.

For more on it, see: Hifi Case Aura 2 Speaker | Uncrate

 

I only have one thought on this insane chair designed with your cat in mind

And that thought is this: no matter how much of this piece of furniture is devoted to your cat, the only place your cat will want to go is where you are sitting!

I honestly think this furniture is insane, but I am sure for some cat lovers, it is a dream come true. To each their own.

For more on this piece of fantasy furniture, go here: This furniture design is a functional piece for you and a playful landscape for your cat! | Yanko Design

 

Beautiful bookcase, beautiful desk

For fans of beautiful bookcases, beautiful desks, or both, check out these two from Yanko Design:

Stunning. I wish I had both.

For fans of minimalism and cats

For fans of minimalism and cats comes this minimalist cat tower. I mean, it looks great. The tower, I mean. Of course the cat looks great. 🙂

Via Yanko Design

Desks of the near future

I’m not sure what the desk or workstation of the near future might look like, but these two articles are providing some ideas:

  1. This home office desk comes with hidden storage systems to keep your desk setup organized! | Yanko Design
  2. This retractable office solution provides privacy and isolation for remote work and WFH days! | Yanko Design

With the pandemic still ongoing, the thought of going back in the office seems remote, but when we do, I expect things are going to start to look different. They might even look like these designs.

Why it takes longer than four hours to build a system for a large organization like a bank or a government

A lot of people have very strong opinions about the IT that has been rolled out for Ontario’s vaccine distribution system. I understand that: it has been very challenging for people to get a vaccine here in this province. People look at other provinces like Nova Scotia with their centralized system and ask why didn’t the province do that. They look at this site some very smart guys hacked together in four hours that allows you to text it and get back nearby vaccination sites and they say the government should be more like that. They attribute the government with being cheap, racist and other things, and say they didn’t build a good IT system because of that.

I have strong opinions about the vaccine IT that has been built out for the province too.  The difference is that my opinions are based on working on several large scale projects with the province. It’s also based on working on emerging IT for several decades. I’d like to share it in the hope it helps people gain some perspective as to what is involved.

Building IT systems for a large organization, private or public, is difficult. There are many stakeholders involved and many users involved and often many existing IT systems involved. You have to meet the needs of all of them, and you often have to go through many reviews with internal reviewers to demonstrate your new IT system meets their standards before you can start to build anything. Even then, with all of that, the IT system you are about to build could still fail. Big organizations are very sensitive to this and work diligently to prevent it. You can’t just hack together a proof of concept one day and then the next day have it go live on some banking or government site. Not in my experience.

Failure is a big concern. Another big concern is the needs of the stakeholders. For government systems there are many of them. There were over 50 other organizations that I had to work with external to the government on the projects I was leading. Each had their own IT systems and their own way of doing things. We could not just come in and say throw out your existing IT and use this new thing. There was a whole onboarding process that had to be developed to bring them into the new way of doing things. And that didn’t include all the people in the province or the country who will use the IT system and are therefore are also big stakeholders: they were taken into account and consulted separately.

A third big concern is systems integration. Not only do you need to work with the external IT systems of the stakeholders mentioned above, you have to work with internal IT systems to get data or send them data. In all cases that means not only do you need to understand what the government needs the new IT  system to do, but it means you have to have some understanding of how all these other systems work. Your new IT system can not be effective if you don’t know how to work with the existing systems. It’s a lot harder than scraping existing web sites and calling it done.

It is one thing to develop an IT system to provide new functionality; you also have to make sure it satisfies a number of non-functional requirements (NFRs). Reliability, performance, security, maintainability, data integrity, accuracy are just some of the NFRs that must be determined and met. Even cost and speed to market (i.e., the time it takes to develop a working system) are important requirements. Then there are regulatory requirements you need to meet, from SOC 2 to HIPAA, depending on the type of system you are building.

In addition to all that, there may be technical or design constraints that you must meet. The organization you are working with may require that you use certain suppliers or certain technology for anything you build. You may want to use Mongo and Node in a GCP region in the US for your IT system, but your client might say it has to run on Azure in Canada using Java/Springboot and Postgres, so your new IT system will have to accommodate that.

Once you have taken all that into account, the organization may have some other requirements, including dates, that must be met. In the case of systems like the vaccine IT, that date is “yesterday”. That will force some decisions on how you build your system.

All that said, my educated guess – and it is a guess, because it is based on my experience and not inside knowledge on how the system was built – was that Ontario decided the quickest way to roll out the vaccine IT was to build on the basis of what already exists. For example, many of the individual pharmacies in Ontario have their own systems for working with their patients. And several hospitals I checked use other software like Verto to manage their patients. The integration of all those systems is on “the glass”. By that I mean you can go to the government web site (“the glass”) and then you are redirected to other systems (e.g. a Verto system for a hospital) to book an appointment.

There are benefits to going with this approach versus building a new centralized IT system. It’s cheaper, for one. But it’s also faster to rollout than a new system. It’s less prone to failure than a new system. If you assume people are going to sign up for COVID vaccines like they do flu vaccines, then you know this approach will work, and reliability is a key NFR. If you are designing IT systems, you have to make assumptions to proceed, and that one is based on things you know, which is usually good.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be a bad assumption. Unlike the flu, where uptake is around 30% and spread out, people are scrambling to get the COVID vaccine. This has led to the downfall of the current approach in Ontario as people try all sorts of ways to get a shot asap.

You might say: well that was a dumb assumption, why would anyone make it? In my experience, with new IT systems, it is hard to predict how people will behave. My colleagues once built a system for a government agency that allowed people to weekly update their status on their workplace. The system was available 24/7, but they had to put in their information by Sunday night, 23:59. All week no one would use the system, and then at 11 pm on Sunday it would get hammered with users trying to send in their information. We did not predict that. We assumed there would be peak usage then, but almost all the traffic was at that point.

To mitigate the risk of bad assumptions, IT projects will often do a gradual rollout. However that was never going to be an option here: people wanted the vaccine IT system “yesterday”.

Nova Scotia chose to develop a centralized system and people are saying Ontario should have done that. Possibly. It’s also possible that conditions in Ontario could have resulted in delays in rolling out a centralized system. Or the system could have been on time but failed often. Many IT systems and programs (e.g. Obamacare) have this result. Or some of the big hospitals and independent small pharmacies could have opted out. Then people would have been complaining about not being able to get a vaccine at all and that would have been much worse.

I am happy for Nova Scotia that theirs works well (although people are bypassing it and just showing up in Nova Scotia, so it’s not all roses there either). It’s fair to compare Ontario to them to some degree. And when all this is over, there should be an audit done by objective third parties to see what worked and what didn’t and what Ontario should do next.

I hope after reading this you have a better understanding of what goes into building IT systems for large organizations. I wish they could be built in a day or a week or a two week sprint even. I do know that large organizations are becoming more nimble and are working to getting out IT capability to their clients and citizens faster than ever before. But as you see, there are many things to take into account, and even with many people working on a new IT system, it does take time. Time measured in weeks and months and even years, not hours.

So the next time you hear someone say “they had all this time to figure this out”, take this into account. And thank you for reading this. I hope it helps.

Finally, these thoughts expressed here are mine and not those of my employer.

(Image is a link to the wikipedia page on system context diagrams, a diagram often used to determine how a new IT system fits in with existing IT systems).

Innovative furniture designs for small homes

I love small spaces, but a lot of mainstream furniture are not suited for it. That’s why I was glad to see this piece: Tiny home-friendly foldable furniture designs that are the modern space-saving solution we need! | Yanko Design

There’s some brilliantly designed furniture for small spaces, including the desk above. Click on over to Yanko Design and take a look.